Comedy review: John Robins: The Darkness of Robins

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Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Last year was the worst of John Robins’s life. Bowie died, Prince died and Robins’ long- term relationship broke up, leaving him single at the age of 35.

Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33)

****

To begin, Robins affects a kind of forced chippy cheerfulness. He’s a comedian, he’ll write a break-up show. Everything will be fine. After beginning with a riff about celebrity deaths Robins cracks, briefly, telling us how awful his life has become, before returning to what he does, telling jokes, moving around the stage, connecting with the audience.

This is a show full of big hearty laughs – but Robins plays it as a man on the edge, letting us see the quiet desperation burning behind his eyes. He lists the advantages of being single, but can’t really find any, beyond being able to use all the plug sockets in his flat. He tries to celebrate by buying ugly furniture but it ends up as a symbol of his despair.

Robins exploits his misery for every single possible laugh – transforming his pain into one long existential comic howl against the human condition.

Being alone is awful. He doesn’t want to play the field. He doesn’t really like other people and he can’t even buy a chest of drawers without it turning into a disaster.

As Robins descends further into his own emotional dysfunction you wonder what the circumstances of the break-up were. But he doesn’t trade in accusations and nothing negative is said about the other person. Nothing at all.

Instead as the emotional intensity increases, little details of the story emerge. It is a sad, universal story, of love and loneliness, told in an unexpectedly comic way.

Finally, after laughing solidly for an hour, you may begin to feel some little tears pricking at the corner of your eyes.

Until tomorrow. Today 6:40pm.